This post may contain affiliate links, view our disclosure policy.
Try this tropical layered carrot cake for a fun and delicious twist to traditional carrot cake. Carrot cake starts with a boxed cake mix, fresh grated carrots, mandarin oranges and is topped with an incredibly light & fluffy pineapple pudding frosting. Tropical layered carrot cake is just like the famous pig pickin’ cake but with a carrot cake twist.
I’ve never been a fan of carrot cake. Not because it’s not amazingly moist and delicious, but more so because of the carrots. I mean, carrots inside a cake?! As a child it just never seemed right. But as an adult I have come to LOVE carrot cake.
Which makes my husband very happy because carrot cake just happens to be his favorite dessert.
The other reason I love carrot cake is because it is so versatile. Like this tropical layered carrot cake that starts with a cake mix, fresh grated carrots, a can of mandarin oranges and it bakes up in some round cake pans.
The frosting to cake ratio may look a bit off, but trust me when I say that this frosting is so light and airy that it pairs so well with the denser carrot cake. I am not even a frosting lover but this pudding frosting I could eat by the spoonful.
Cakes can be intimidating because of the frosting. I get it. I do. I have never been good at frosting the sides of the cake so it’s smooth and looks nice. Which is why I prefer to just frost the middle and top of the cake (like in the pictures).
I think it looks very chic and pretty, compared to the entire cake being covered in frosting. If you’d rather frost the sides as well, the recipe makes plenty of frosting so go ahead and do that.
How to make this tropical layered carrot cake
- Grate some carrots on a cheese grater and combine it with the coconut. Mix in 3 tablespoons of the dry cake mix, to prevent the carrots and coconut from sinking, and set it aside.
- Mix up the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl. I know it’s scary to just dump the entire can of mandarin oranges (juice and all!) but just do it 🙂 It provides so much moisture and it’s just plain amazing.
- Pour the cake batter into 2 9″ round cake pans. Or, for thinner layers you can use 3 9″ round cake pans.
- Once the carrot cake cooks be sure and let it cool for a couple of hours.
- Mix up the simple frosting of pineapple, vanilla pudding mix, heavy cream and powdered sugar. This frosting is incredible! It is so light and fluffy. I am not a fan of frosting but this frosting I could eat by the spoonful.
- Top with some crushed pecans if wanted and serve right away or put it in the fridge to get cold. I prefer this cake cold so I always let it refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving.
Tips for making this tropical layered carrot cake
- DO NOT use the pre-shredded carrots you can buy in the produce department. They are too thick and coarse to use in this cake and I promise it will not turn out well. Buy some fresh carrots and shred them. You don’t even have to peel the carrots, just take them to a cheese grater and grate them up.
- Be sure to let the cake cool completely. You do not want to frost a warm cake.
- If you must, you can use a tub of Cool Whip in place of the fresh whipped cream but I would really suggest not doing it. If you do, you will need the equivalent which would be 4 cups of Cool Whip.
- I love this cake cold. I make the cake and once cooled I frost it. I then put it in the fridge for a couple of hours, or more, until serving time. You could also make the cake and the frosting the day before, keep it stored in the fridge, and then the next day assemble it all together. That way, the cake will be cold and you can prepare it ahead of time.
Carrot cake is the perfect springtime dessert and also a must-have for Easter dessert. I always love making several different carrot cakes for Easter dinner. I always love options and can never seem to get enough carrot cake this time of year.
Thanks for stopping by and enjoy! Let me know what you think and if you give it a try. And be sure to pin this recipe to Pinterest so you can have it for later.
Tropical Layered Cake with Pineapple Pudding Frosting
Tropical Carrot Cake
- 3/4 cup finely shredded carrots (about 2 carrots)
- 1 cup flaked coconut
- 1 box (15.25 oz) yellow cake mix (I used Betty Crocker)
- 2/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 4 large eggs
- 1 can (11 oz) madarin oranges, DO NOT drain
Pineapple Pudding Frosting
- 1 can (8 oz) crushed pineapple, DO NOT drain
- 1 box (3.4 oz) instant vanilla pudding mix (dry mix, do not prepare)
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- chopped pecans, for garnish (if wanted)
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 2 9" round cake pans by spraying with cooking spray and dusting with flour. Or, you can use Baker's Joy spray instead. If you want thinner layers, then prepare 3 9" round cake pans.
- In a medium bowl, combine the shredded carrots and coconut with 3 tablespoons of the dry cake mix. This will prevent it from sinking in the cake batter while baking.
- In a separate larger bowl, combine the remaining cake mix, oil, water, cinnamon, allspice, eggs, and can of mandarin oranges. DO NOT drain the oranges, just pour the entire can in. Beat together with a handheld blender for 1-2 minutes or until completely combined.
- Stir in the coconut and carrot mixture and stir together with a spatula or wooden spoon until incorporated into the batter. Evenly divide the cake batter between the prepared cake pans.
- Cook for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.
- Let cool on a cooling rack until completely cooled. About 1-2 hours. Once cooled frost the top of one cake, place the other on top and spread the remaining frosting on top. If wanted, frost the sides of the caked too. Garnish with chopped pecans if wanted. I like to refrigerate the cake before serving, or you can serve right away.
- To make pudding frosting : In a mixing bowl combine the undrained can of crushed pineapple and box of pudding mix (dry mix, do not prepare). Stir together. In a separate mixing bowl, or bowl of a stand mixer, add the heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar. Beat with a handheld blender or whisk attachment until stiff peaks form. About 5 minutes. Add the whipped cream into the pineapple mixture and stir together until combined.
Save this recipe for later and PIN IT to PINTEREST